Researchers have found the first observational evidence that the universe could be, in fact, a hologram. The study analyzed irregularities in the cosmic microwave background and found that there is as much evidence to prove this hypothesis as there is to support the traditional explanation of cosmic expansion.
The research, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, was carried out by researchers from the University of Southampton (UK), the University of Waterloo (Canada), Lecce (Italy), the International Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), and the University of Salento (Italy).
The Universe, Potentially A 2D Hologram
The idea of a potential holographic universe was first brought up in the 1990s. The theory is that all the information, consisting of our 3D reality plus time, is actually contained in a 2D surface on its boundaries.
"Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire universe is encoded," noted Kostas Skenderis of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton.
Different from a holographic reality, but illustrating the same concept is the 3D movie we see in cinemas. Pictures appear to have first of all depth, then height and width, but they actually come from a 2D, flat screen. The major difference is that in our reality objects can be touched and it can be empirically stated that they "exist."
During the past decades, the technological advancement in telescopes has provided researchers with the necessary tools to examine a very large amount of data, some of which hidden are in microwaves or white noise. Employing this information in the current research, the scientists made a series of complex comparisons between quantum field theory and networks of data features. The researchers suggest that even some of the most basic quantum field theories can explain almost all the cosmological observations of the early universe.
"Observations can be used to exclude some quantum field theory (QFT) models, while we also find models satisfying all phenomenological constraints: The data rule out the dual theory being a Yang-Mills theory coupled to fermions only but allow for a Yang-Mills theory coupled to nonminimal scalars with quartic interactions. Lattice simulations of 3D QFTs can provide nonperturbative predictions for large-angle statistics of the cosmic microwave background and potentially explain its apparent anomalies," noted the research.
Following In Einstein's Footsteps
According to Skenderis, holography is an important step forward in the way we position ourselves toward the anatomy and formation of the universe.
The professor also noted that researchers have been trying for decades to combine Einstein's theory of gravity with quantum theory.
Prior to this research, a team of scientists managed to create the largest 3D universe map, which was found to validate Einstein's theory on dark energy. The map gathers 1.2 million galaxies and its volume is approximately 650 cubic billion light-years. Aside from being an original creation, the map can also measure the effects of dark matter accurately.